Black Widow ended on a great note last month, with the ongoing storyline of what happens when the global media at large learns of Natasha’s various activities, both covert and otherwise, and then proceeds to vilify her and question what her role with SHIELD and the Avengers really is. This also then segued into some bread-crumbs that Nathan Edmondson had left behind in his early issues, and we saw more glimpses of the manipulators behind some of Natasha’s recent missions. All very spy-ish and all, which was fantastic.
Black Widow #14 continues Natasha’s search for answers and it is a tale of a vengeful superspy who is out for blood and damn the consequences. In a world where almost everyone she knows has a superpower, barring a very small handful of people, it would be easy to consider her nowhere near as proficient at them in getting things done, but that’s far from the reality. She has her own methodology and this issue shows just how effective that really is. And Phil Noto’s artwork is as pleasingly beautiful as always, a big plus as always.
We are at a point where we finally know who is after Natasha, CHAOS. But what does CHAOS want exactly and why she is a target, well that’s another thing entirely. And Natasha is intent on finding out everything that she can about this mysterious organisation, an organisation that can reach into SHIELD’s most secure sites and kill people, as we saw back in the first arc of the series. And this issue marks the point where Natasha goes all-out and starts hunting down those who have had dealings with CHAOS in an attempt to gather intel.
We know that Natasha is an extremely-capable spy and infiltrator. We have been told so again and again in various stories, irrespective of the medium. But outside of this series, there have been precious little moments when we have seen her be an extremely-capable spy and infiltrator. At least in recent years. That’s where this issue comes in. We see here how Natasha uses every tool and every skill to learn more about CHAOS. She goes undercover, uses camouflage, tortures people, manipulates others, and so on and on.
Natasha is intent on unmasking CHAOS no matter the cost, and this brutal streak is somewhat refreshing to see. And she has every cause to be brutal, since CHAOS not only maligned her character in front of the world, but also went after her attorney and friend, Isaiah, who has been her moral center for a long time. That’s what I love about the series so much. Nathan Edmondson has given Natasha some great reasons to be passionate about and yet retain her strong sense of purpose without going down the cliche route.
And then of course, there’s the action in the second half of the issue, when Natasha kind of throws caution to the wind and puts her hand full into the lion’s den. This is the point of do-or-die, and seeing Natasha handle herself in that situation, well that’s kind of a dream come true, since with her inner dialogue, we continue to learn more and more about what makes her who she is.
There’s a little sequence towards the end where Maria Hill and Isaiah converse about what Natasha is up to and how the former looks at her, one of SHIELD’s higest-rated agents. I found that to be a really heart-warming story, same as another conversation previously, between Isaiah and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, IIRC. Just goes to shed more light on Natasha and portray her as the complex character she really is.
Phil Noto once again delivers some gorgeous art. The camouflage scene early on was particularly well-done, as was another one later where she goes undercover in a sort of a classic spy-situation. The true poignancy of the artwork is never lost in the shuffle, and as always, the action scenes really do stand out in the second half, once Natasha deals with the CHAOS agents on a cruise ship and is looking to escape. That whole fight was really well-executed, far better than I expected it to, and my expectations were already quite high as well.